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The Fence and the Elections

Monday, May 22, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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Fred Barnes, Bob Novak, Paul Mirengoff and David Frum all have takes on the politics of the immigration reform package making its way to the Senate and then on to conference.

To me the end game is simple, and to refuse to go there will be bad news for the GOP.

The southern border, today, is open to the determined, and hundreds of thousands of Mexicans and emigrees from Central and South America are so determined as to do whatever it takes to get to the U.S. to work in whatever job they can find.

Until and unless the border is significantly more difficult to cross, the problem will only get worse, not better.

So the House bill’s 700 miles of fence and the Senate’s bill of 370 miles of fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers plus the new funding for border patrol increases etc is the key to the policy and the politics of the bill.

Democrats are the anti-fencing party, and the Senate vote left two of that party’s incumbents vulnerable on the issue: Cantwell and Menedez. Rarely have such stupid election year votes been cast as this pair’s opposition to defending the border.

The amendment to drive down the guest worker number helped make the Senate bill better, and further compromise in the the conference will do the same. If the Patriot Act can have a sunset on it, why not the guest worker provision? 200,000 each year for four years, and then the law sunsets. Bring it back and see what the situation is.

The social security grant of benefits must go. Other than fencing, this was the story of last week, and it struck the vast majority of Americans as unjust to retroactively bestow entitlements on those who were working illegally.

But with some strengthenings, the GOP will have satisfied those who can be satisfied on the issue, and have to do their job of closing the border. Will some sit out? Yes, but hopefully the obvious message that future border security cannot depend on the party of Cantwell, Menedez, and Pelosi will sink in over the next six months.

The conference should finish the job and get the bill back for a final debate in early summer.

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